Five years ago, Global Playground was just a dream – a dream that one day, kids from all over the world could play on a virtual playground where they would be free to be kids. A dream that schools could be places where kids would be free to explore their curiosity and engage their peers halfway across the world in cross-cultural dialogue. Five years later, that dream has become a reality.
Since its inception in May 2006, Global Playground has provided educational opportunities to over twelve hundred children in four countries. The organization’s projects have spanned the continents of Africa, Asia and South America, making possible the education of children in developing countries and promoting the importance of cross-cultural exchange.
As its first project, Global Playground partnered with Building Tomorrow, a non-profit organization with experience building schools in Uganda. Together, the two organizations built an eight-room primary school that accommodates approximately 325 children in the greater Kampala region of Uganda. The school gives students the opportunity to advance to a grade level of P7 (about 7th grade) in a part of Africa where the average child only has about 3.5 total years of schooling.
Global Playground’s second project was a middle school in Cambodia. Working with American
Assistance for Cambodia, and with matching funds from the Asian Development Bank, Global
Playground built a five-room school in Cambodia’s Kandal province. Since its opening, the Cambodian Ministry of Education has maintained the school, empowering the local community in which Global Playground operates.
In January 2009, Global Playground moved quickly, and completed the construction of a library in
Northern Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province in only seven weeks. After raising the funds needed to
build the library, Global Playground then enlisted the help of the Samsara Foundation, a non-profit organization whose efforts are focused on education in the region, to construct the library. Today, Global Playground’s first Teaching Fellow, Ryan Drysdale, is living and working at the school on a one-year assignment to further the educational opportunities of the school’s students and connect the students with schools here in the United States. You can follow Ryan’s blog on Global Playground’s
website to learn more about his experiences.
Global Playground’s most recent undertaking was completed last spring in Honduras in the small
community of Villa Soleada, near the city of El Progreso. More than 200 children benefit from GP’s new technology center, which houses five new computers, educational software, broadband internet and a full-time tech instructor. Students in Villa Soleada are using the center to engage in cross-cultural dialogue with students in New York, Connecticut, and other parts of the U.S. and with students at GP’s other project sites around the world.
In addition to building schools, libraries and technology centers, Global Playground recently launched its Virtual Playground, an internet tool that enables students from all of GP’s sites to interact with each other and with students in the U.S. “We don’t just want to build schools. We want to connect children with children,” said Edward Branagan, Global Playground’s Executive Director, in a recent interview. Virtual Playground enables this connection through blogs, Skype, and photo and video sharing via an online platform. Teachers in the U.S. are strongly encouraged to explore GP’s Virtual Playground to discover for themselves how their students can interact with other students in developing countries. More information and a Teacher Toolkit (PDF) can be found on Global Playground’s website.
Global Playground is proud of the organization’s first five years of bringing educational opportunities to the developing world, and looks forward to growing and taking on new projects. This month, Ryan, Edward, and Global Playground board members Doug Bunch and Doug Smith are in Southeast Asia, checking in on the projects currently in place as well as investigating new project sites. Global Playground is always looking for volunteers, donors, teachers and schools, and partner organizations interested in helping the organization accomplish its mission to raise awareness and share resources with people of the developing world to create educational opportunities where they do not exist. If you have an interest in becoming involved, please visit Global Playground’s website or contact Global Playground at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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